The last month of the MLB Offseason has probably seen more moves than the first two, leaving us plenty to recap.
*Note* Trevor Bauer will not be mentioned in this article. His deal with the Dodgers will be talked about in detail in another article, which can be found here.
Cardinals side: Arenado has been paired with the Rockies for the last half decade, and it’s finally happened. The Cardinals aren’t a huge market by any means, but they continue to poach the superstars from even lesser markets (ex: Paul Goldschmidt), allowing them to stay in contention for playoff runs. Nolan is far from a certainty outside of Coors, but is definitely better than whoever they planned to play 3rd prior. Furthermore, the 50 million will help alleviate a significant portion of his contract. The NL Central is easily the worst division in baseball, and St. Louis may just be the best team within it, positioning them to make one concluding run with their core. Rating: 9.5/10
Rockies side: Trading away a top five player at his position along with a heavy amount of cash is never a good thing, and this is no exception. The only bright spot of this trade is that the Rox have finally committed to a rebuild, but the return was subpar at best. Gomber was the best piece received and he doesn’t seem like much more than a 4th starter with upside. The other four are pretty much unknowns at the moment. Rating: 1/10
Padres side: The 3rd (!!) great starting pitcher traded for by San Diego this offseason, Musgrove is a high end 3/low end 2 starter who will be asked to be the 4th guy in San Diego. The Padres are doing a great job at ensuring that injuries won’t sink them this year by creating depth on their roster. They gave up a few decent pieces but easily received the best player in the three team deal. Rating: 8/10
Mets side: There isn’t much to say here, but Lucchesi was actually decent in 2018 and 2019 before hitting a plateau this past year. He’ll provide valuable depth for the Mets and replace Steven Matz. Rating: 7/10
Pirates side: This is a great job by Pittsburgh at maximizing Musgrove’s value and getting a pretty good return package. Head is a really fun prospect, who has the athleticism to stay in center, with a best case scenario of becoming the Pirates everyday centerfielder/leadoff man in the future. Bednar has been hit around in his MLB time thus far, but fits the bill as a depth reliever with upside. Cruz, Rodriguez, and Fellows are deemed as raw talent currently. Rating: 8/10
Yankees side: Taillon comes with a pretty substantial amount of doubt, having had two Tommy John surgeries already in his career, but he also comes with a mammoth amount of upside. Taillon was exceptional from 2016-18 and is a serviceable #2 starter when healthy. They did give up some decent-good prospects for him, though, and it’s possible Taillon will never tap into this old self. There is an extremely wide range of outcomes for the Yankees’ rotation this year with injury concerns for Taillon, Luis Severino, Corey Kluber, and Jordan Montgomery as well as ongoing legal disputes with Domingo German. Rating: 7.5/10
Pirates side: Taillon has probably had more value in past years and may have more value in future years, but all in all, you can’t fault the return for Pittsburgh. Contreras seemingly has all the tools to be a mid-top of the rotation guy, given that he starts to put everything together. Yajure is a very complete pitcher for a 22 year old and could debut this year. Escotto possesses a lot of tools but is far from the bigs and Smith could be a platoon corner outfielder. Rating 8/10
A’s side: Andrus has one of the worst contracts in baseball, but the 13.5 million will help with some of that. Oakland needed a new SS after losing Marcus Semien, but Andrus is nowhere close to Semien at this point in his career. If you try hard enough, you can envision Andrus as the A’s everyday SS until his contract is up (3 years) but there isn’t much upside at all. Garcia can serve as a backup catcher. Rating: 6/10
Rangers side: KD has been horrendous the past 2 years, but has been known to terrorize the Rangers, especially in Arlington. Perhaps that he is at this favorite ballpark we will see a return to his 2016-18 form, but it seems unlikely. Texas will likely be one of the worst teams in the league this year, but they may be at the top in terms of homeruns. Heim is actually a decently intriguing piece, as a good hitting catcher, and could be a backend starter/solid backup for Texas. Rating: 7/10
Royals side: Benintendi is a fine, everyday player but he really isn’t the player that some make him out to be. He only has one season with an over 2.0 fWAR and doesn’t really excel at anything. In short, the idea of having Benintendi on your team is better than actually having him. However, the Royals didn’t give up too much here and still got a decent regular. KC could be sneaky good this year. Rating: 6.5/10
Mets side: Lee has a relatively high ceiling and a lot of tools to become a good player, but the minor league production hasn’t been there yet. The strikeouts are really high for him and his defense isn’t guaranteed to keep him in center field long term. Despite this, he is still pretty young for a nearly MLB ready player and once again has a lot of plus tools. Even if he ends up as a 4th outfielder/platoon guy, the Mets did good here. Rating: 8.5/10
Red Sox side: There’s probably a reason that Winckowski has now been flipped twice in the same offseason and he doesn’t project as much more than a depth guy. Cordero is one of the most interesting players in the league and emulates Ken Griffey Jr. playing style…. but without the production. If he’s matched with the right coaches in Boston then maybe all his potential can be unlocked. Overall, it seems like Boston was over Benintendi and they get two decent return pieces. Rating: 7/10
The Yankees were pretty busy towards the end of January, with the re-signing of LeMahieu being the biggest of their moves. I was convinced that the relationship between LeMahieu and New York was tarnished which made this move pretty surprising for me. This likely takes the Yankees out of contention for next year’s monster SS class and it’ll be interesting to see if LeMahieu maintains his elite production from the last two years or slightly regresses to his Colorado days as he enters his mid 30s.
These were necessary moves for Philadelphia to make, but I’m just not sure where this puts them heading into 2021. The contracts for both make relative sense for the Phillies and the players, but the team has done little to bolster their team elsewhere. Health was an issue for the Phils last year, but even a fully healthy Phillies roster doesn’t scream contender to me. It could be another .500 season for Philly.
This is an extremely team friendly deal for Atlanta and heightens their chance at making another run at the World Series. Ozuna obviously won’t post a 179 wRC+ again, but even his career 117 wRC+ is well worth a 16 million dollar per year commitment. There was likely a better offer for him elsewhere, but staying in Atlanta maximizes his chances at winning a ring.
Brantley and Ozuna are very comparable players (they have the same career wRC+), so their equivalent 16 million dollar per year contracts make sense. It was thought for a little that Brantley was lost to the Blue Jays, but nonetheless he will play his next two years in Houston. The Astros may be significantly worse this year which will also put more pressure on Uncle Mike.
One of very few players to have his prime in his mid-30s, Cruz is back for another season of just hitting. He will likely never play the field ever again, but it doesn’t really matter when he is one of the best pure run producers in the league. Minnesota’s offseason has been largely running in circles, so it’ll be fun to see if they can finally break their playoff losing streak.
Battery mates since 2005, Wainwright and Yadi will be back for presumably their final season. Both are soon to be 40 and they are far past being just a shell of themselves. This Cardinals team now has Nolan Arenado which makes their chances better than last years, and in a weak division, they could definitely be in place to make one last run.
This is a phenomenal haul for the Blue Jays, headlined by Springer. George has been one of the 10 best outfielders in baseball for the past six years and will finally get his chance to be “the guy.” I really like his chances at possibly winning a MVP this year. Semien was disappointing in 2020, but is only a year removed from a 3rd place MVP finish. Marcus’s value could be further heightened now that he is at 2nd base. Yates was injured for most of 2020, but is once again only a year removed from top 10 Cy Young finish (as a reliever!). This is the exact veteran influx the Jays needed and they are in a good spot to make the playoffs again.
The best defensive SS in the game has a new home, and it’s a spot where he can finally contend. The Twins were already overpopulated in the infield, and this signing does say quite a bit about how they feel about Jorge Polanco and Luis Arraez. I don’t understand the league wide obsession with JA Happ but he gets yet another decent paycheck to be a competent #4 starter. The Twins are in a good spot on paper, but their past indicates that playoff contention is far from a guarantee.
In an effort to find any position player production beyond Christian Yelich, the Brewers bring in one of the best defensive second baseman in the league. He won’t give you too much offensively but his career 96 wRC+ is not bad by any means. Offensive consistency from Wong could go a long way in helping Milwaukee make a run. Furthermore, this will push Keston Hiura to 1st or DH (if it’s maintained).
Quintana and Cobb continue the trend of the Angels bringing in very uninspiring and out of their prime starting pitchers, (ex: Matt Harvey, Trevor Cahill, Julio Teheran) expecting them to be more than they are. I do have more optimism about Quintana than Cobb and any of the three mentioned for that matter, but expecting him to be much more than a 3rd starter is stretching it. If both Quintana and Cobb can just be average and more importantly, HEALTHY, inning eaters, that will be big. Also worth mentioning is the Angels trading of Jahmai Jones to acquire Cobb, which I don’t think is too huge of a loss since Jones is really just a great athlete without many baseball tools. Fowler is also past his prime, but is still a serviceable everyday corner outfielder. He reunites with Joe Maddon and also allows the Angels to let Jo Adell develop in AAA. I vehemently dislike everything about Kurt Suzuki, but hopefully he is a backup and Max Stassi retains his hold as the majority catcher.
Washington has had a pretty solid, underrated offseason so far, and this continues that trend. Lester will no longer blow you away but can still eat some innings which is always valuable. Hand will probably close for them and although he’s imploded at times, he is still one of the best in the league.
This group of players is all over the place, but they all come with some upside. Richards was pretty good in his return from injury last year and is, hopefully, fully healthy now. Kike isn’t great at any particular thing but can play everyday despite not having a concrete position. Renfroe is a fun platoon power bat who will thrive with the Green Monster. Ottavino comes over in the rare Yankees-Red Sox trade and could be their closer. Boston has the pieces to maybe make a Wild Card run.
Matz has been up and down for most of his career, with 2020 being a down. However, I think ignoring this 30 inning sample is fine, making it safe to say that he will still serve as a backend starter with some decent upside. Toronto has the pieces in place to possibly contend this year but guys like Matz, Robbie Ray, Ross Stripling, and Tanner Roark need to be better than they were last year. The Mets get a few decent depth pitchers in return (Sean Reid-Foley/Yennsy Diaz).
Chicago lost Kyle Schwarber to the Nationals and instantly replaced him with a carbon copy of himself. Joc is maybe slightly better than Schwarber but it might not mean much considering the impending Cubs rebuild. Pederson is a trade deadline candidate.
Another player very similar to Schwarber and Pederson, Rosario stays in division to join Cleveland. The Indians have struggled to find outfield production throughout the years, though Rosario might be able to change that. Hernandez is a slightly above average everyday player and resigning him shows that Cleveland still wants to contend this year even without Francisco Lindor.
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